My Grandpa loves this bread. I should explain, Grandpa is as German as the day is long, and has sampled his fair share of homemade breads in his eighty-one years. If Grandpa says this is good bread, you had best roll up your sleeves and get ready to play with flour!
This recipe offers just the right combination of whole wheat flour for nutritional wholesomeness, and white flour for fluffing things up a bit. Also, the yeast is fed and the bread is sweetened entirely naturally, using blackstrap molasses and honey. The end result is a bread that tastes rich, slightly sweet, and a little bit nutty (due to the addition of flax). Bite into a slice and you’ll find its just firm enough to remind you that you aren’t eating something preservative-laden that came out of a plastic bag. It pairs perfectly with a simple Orange Walnut Spread, below.
Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
2 1/4 teaspoons (or one envelope) yeast
2 cups lukewarm (not boiling hot) water
1/4 cup soft (not melted) butter
3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
3 tablespoons organic honey
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 tablespoons flax seed
Cornmeal (for dusting the baking pan, optional)
Step 2) While the yeast is blooming, combine butter, molasses, honey, and salt in a separate bowl. Hint: If you grease the measuring tablespoon with just a drop or two of cooking oil, the molasses and honey will slide right off the spoon into the bowl!
Step 3) Add butter mixture to yeast and water. Stir gently until well blended.
Step 5) This is the fun part… knead your bread dough for five minutes. Don’t just use your fingers, but really put some muscle into it by using the heels of your palms. Turn the dough over a few times, sprinkling the table and the dough with flour if it becomes sticky. After five minutes, your dough should look like this:
Step 6) Grease a large mixing bowl – rubbing the paper wrapper from a stick of butter along the inside of the bowl works well. Place your kneaded dough in the bowl, and set aside in a warm place for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. Hint: If you turn on your oven for one or two minutes (no longer), then turn it OFF, your oven will be just warm enough to provide a cozy place for your bowl of dough to rise.
Step 7) Need to work out an annoyance or two? Once your bread dough has doubled in size, give it a few punches to smush it back down. Then, divide your dough in half and shape it into loaves.
Step 8) Prepare your baking pan(s). You can use greased and floured bread pans if you’d like, but I prefer the rustic feel of round loaves baked on a flat pan. I recommend greasing the largest flat pan that will fit in your oven, and sprinkling it with cornmeal.* Then, place your rounded loaves on the pan, several inches apart.
*Cornmeal is optional, but it helps keep the bread from sticking to the pan and also helps create a hearty bottom crust.
Step 9) This step is optional, but will make your loaves look all fancy schmancy. You’ll need a cookie cutter, a beaten egg, and one of the following: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, or quinoa. With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m using a heart shaped cookie cutter. Simply place your cookie cutter on your loaf of bread and brush a bit of beaten egg on the bread dough that’s inside. Holding the cookie cutter in place, sprinkle a bit of seeds or quinoa inside. Carefully lift the cookie cutter away. Look at that!
Step 10) Let your shaped loaves rise again, this time for one hour.
Step 11) Bake your loaves at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy with Orange Walnut Spread.
Orange Walnut Spread
This recipe takes all of two minutes to prepare, and is wonderful paired with a hearty bread such as the Whole Wheat Molasses Bread, above. Children love this spread served with carrot sticks.
Ingredients (makes 1 generous cup)
8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts.
Step 1) Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar really well. I prefer using an electric mixer for this.
Step 2) Blend in orange marmalade and chopped walnuts.
Step 3) Serve in a pretty bowl!